Paul Auster: The Interview

Let me tell you a little secret: as a freelance writer, I tend towards selecting topics that are personally gratifying. As such, I try to reserve my freelancing for speaking to other people whose work I respect or idolise in some way. A prime example: my recent phone interview with Paul Auster, which was exhilarating. I was sweatingly nervous the whole time. Please enjoy.

Paul-Auster-2
Paul Auster

Voter Turnout: New Story

Natalia reads her latest topical speculative fiction: Voter Turnout. Listen and download for free. Vapes! Drones! Tattoos! This story has it all.

Morrissey Fan Fiction (or What’s Left of It)

Months ago I proclaimed with all the fanfare my social media network affords that I WOULD BE WRITING MORRISSEY FAN FICTION. And, to my credit, I wrote and even designed cover art for said piece. But I never felt like it was good enough. It lacked substance. Then I took out the fictitious and Morrissey parts and it became a memoir of my university days that I considered shopping as a work of non-fiction. Then I was overly self-conscious, thought it was too personal, and wanted to bury it. Until the other day: when working on “my novel” I exploded that thing that began as a Morrissey fan fiction and re-worked most of it into my opus, leaving only this piece of shrapnel: Flash Fiction (3).

Part inspired by the 90’s era SAAB automobile of Dears bass player Roberto Arquilla — who when asked about the 1989 900s 16 valve (no turbo), affectionately called it a “money pit.” He has since parted ways with the beast. Yet I always admired the shape of that car, though it was perpetually falling apart and smelled of cigarettes. Those were the days, my friend.

The Mozzer illustration is by Joe Ollmann, whose books you should read. In a frenzied enthusiasm about writing my first fan fiction I asked him to render a picture of Morrissey, which he almost immediately sent back to me attached to a self-deprecating email, which I appreciated as much as the drawing itself.

Enjoy this nugget, Flash Fiction (3), or what’s become of my Morrissey Fan Fiction

Better Late Than Never

I promised a new story last week — a deadline I completely failed to meet. I hope you will forgive me.

This story, entitled “After All,” was written with a very moderate audience in mind. I had initially written it for a CBC writing competition, so I challenged myself to write a “tame” story. Here’s the description:

Robots are the main companions for the elderly in this heartwarming portrait of two unlikely friends. 

I promise I won’t wait a year before releasing another story. The next one will be a lot darker and give you something to sink your teeth into. For now, some springtime fluff to help get you through your daily commute, or however you use things like this. Enjoy!

Listen on Bandcamp or Soundcloud. Read the story below, or on Scribd.

The First Short Story

Last night I published a short story called Final Fridays <– read it by clicking on the link. It's very short, and also there is a podcast of me reading the story that Murray helped me record. It's my first one (both publicly released fiction and podcast) so there are some kinks to work out on the technical/distribution side. Eentually I'd like to have the podcast be a regular thing everyone could get the RSS feed to, or download through iTunes, etc. I suppose for that, it would be more useful to have more than one "episode."

Because I care, I just now decided to email YOU the link to the podcast if you write to me at: natalia.scifi@gmail.com JUST BECAUSE I CARE. I appreciate the fact that you're reading my blog. (Update: I will NOT spam you.)

And if you still are thirsting for MORE, read the interview I did about this writing project. Although, I was slightly misquoted. Indie-rock sci-fi is supposed to be a “Pitchfork-near-future-DYstopia” not “utopia.” That made the joke not-funny. But that’s not what I’m writing about: I roll my eyes a full 360° at the triteness of the idea.

More to come….now the pressure is on to write!

Sci Fi Digest

I recently entered a writing contest at one of my favourite websites in geekery, io9. I also recently learned that I did not win said writing contest. I had a hunch I wouldn’t: the story I submitted was a good story, not so much full-on science. The science was there, it just wasn’t overbearing like it is in the winning stories. Mine was Fiction-Science, more than Science-Fiction.

Anyhow, don’t be discouraged because I’m not. I’ve had loads of ideas coming through, nurtured by all kinds of random things and human interactions – including seeing Lynda Barry speak. She was very inspiring.

This morning I started a story (it’s more of a screenplay than a story) with the tentative title: Higgs Boson Brûlée. It’s about robots wanting social sophistication. In mid-descriptive sentence, I felt compelled to refer to this video from yesteryear:

Yeah, I was imagining “people” like that: half mechanics, half clothing, the way they look and move is human-esque, but their primary reason for being designed and built is something totally mundane and/or inhuman. I further interrupted my writing to share this thought path with you. Here’s an excerpt of what I was working on:

MURIEL and THOM have just finished eating. What have they eaten? We’re not sure, their plates filled with scraps of tentacled sea-creatures oozing black goo, a brightly coloured sponge in gasoline jus with rainbow-sheen. A flat bowl of amoeba risotto, a dark blue lumpy mixture that emanates tiny busts of phosphorescent light.

Awesome, RIGHT?????

P.S. I’m planning on recording myself reading my contest-losing story and making podcasts available soon. Hopefully before February.

(Hardly) Tragic Life Stories

This morning my brain woke up at 7:15AM, exactly 45 minutes before my body was ready. That was just enough time to lay there and start over-thinking things: Was the car going to get a ticket? Did I remember to lock the door? Am I catching cold? What’s wrong with me? Why does winter suck so hard? Etc, etc. In that time, my mind wandered, and got all self-critical of my 20’s. You know, the university years. The stuff of which nightmares are made. The conscious moments between longer periods of being drunk prior to graduation.

More specifically, I was feeling embarrassed to have spent several years as a creative writing major: all the poor things I not only wrote but shared with my classmates. I was writing from nowhere, from a life part-lived. Essentially I was making the shit up as I went along…which should be the goal of creative writing, otherwise they would call it plagaristic writing. I think art schools and especially the creative writing major should be abolished. What a way to commodify art…guised as education. Art should be workshopped, never graded.

The point: sometime in the late 90’s I took a class called Creative Writing: Memoir Fiction. Or something like that. I was so into it: what could be more awesome/easy than writing about my life? At the time, I thought I was amazing. I was invincible. I was 22. I was totally lost in life but having a great time. So I wrote a story about it. I seriously thought: “I – hands down – have the most interesting life out of everyone in this class and my story is going to BLOW THEM AWAY.” I was conceited. Did I mention that?

My only caveat was one particular classmate who was actually a good writer. She had had her work published and shit. We had mutual friends and at the time I thought it was likely that her life might be more interesting than mine. She was also a few years older. And this morning, in my momentary post-dawn panic, I realised it was the possibility of her opinion that embarrassed me. Like my “tell-it-like-it-is life story” about going to bars and having dinners at fancy restaurants was remotely intellectual and engaging. It totally was not. That story was a bona fide piece of garbage.

The largest tragedy here was that I ever thought the drivel I put out there was appropriate to share and discuss with others. Yikes, anyone?

A final thought: how depressing and morally crushing would it be, being a creative writing teacher? Not trying to be offensive to creative writing teachers out there, but the amount of pure rubbish you would have to process: read cricitally, comment on and grade. All the while, your internal dialogue being: “This is the future of English literature. Fucking hell. Can I murder myself now?” Thus, possibly, the genesis of a new genre.

Books

The other day I formulated an extreme thought on society and culture. This is one of my classic thoughts (reminiscent of last year’s post: Poetry is Dead), something that I might believe in but could never commit to. Its just interesting, a “what if.”

The thesis: Do we need fiction anymore? Remember a few years ago when the soft-memoir was all the rage? Until the Oprah-fueled debacle over the fictionalization of an apparent memoir: “A Million Little Pieces”. That was disappointing: not because moments of the book were fictionalized, but that people cared more about whether or not it was true hard fact, rather than the idea that they just read a well-written, inspiring story (though I never read it, but you get the point).

The other night, looking at a small stack of novels I have piled at my bedside, I wondered why I find it so difficult to get into a book? Why don’t I read anymore? There are certainly enough books worth reading, and also a near-equivalent number of books I haven’t read yet. So my bedside booklist sits, glowing with good intention, but rarely ever beating out the back pages of The Economist or a rousing game of Sudoku on the DS: both wonderfully sedating by being boringly-interesting (or interestingly-boring?).

I love reading: it fires up my brain, reminds me of the words I know but that I never use, makes me think of all the things I could communicate properly instead of calling them “great” or, quite simply, “radz.” I am also reminded of my poor command of the English language, my grammatical laziness and slothful attention to usage. Ah, but I’ve digressed.

I thought of how I often feel uninspired to read, unwilling to immerse myself in a story, in something dense and complicated, with characters both likable and not. When I realised this is it: I am resistant to investing my time in people, in the protagonist and the antagonist and their little dilemmas. The mere idea is entirely exhausting.

Why would I study, commit, connect to characters when this is what I am doing all day? I read people’s blogs, their Facebooks, their Twitters; somehow I know what people across the continent have done in a day, where they’ve gone, how they feel, how the weather affects them, which YouTube videos made them laugh, the news they’ve read, the music they’ve listened to, the things they like/loathe. I know the intersections of myriad characters: hundreds of people and the minutiae of their every single day. Aren’t these the very elements that help us learn and understand a character in a novel? The threads that weave together a personality? Their relationships and how they interact with the world? This is my new fiction, my neo-memoir: via social networking, I am reading dozens of life stories every day. The only difference is, unlike reading a book, I cannot control how quickly I get to the end. I am also never guaranteed a prefect story arc or meaningful closure. If I don’t like someone’s story, or the way they are telling it, I have to wait years to see how it ends: do they stay together? Lose the house? Get the job? Succeed wonderfully? Fail miserably? Stay happy? Stumble into a crippling depression? How will I know? I have to be patient.

I’ll get to the end of every story, sooner or later.